Co-owner of Autland Heavy Equipment Company Limited Dion Crabbe, is urging contractors to consider hiring locals to work at construction projects.
Crabbe made the call at a recent contract-signing ceremony where the Recovery & Development Agency awarded his company a $2,208,098.48 contract for rehabilitation works to the Long Bush water system.
“More of the contractors need to consider using some of the local guys that are here, instead of just passing them on the side because you really don’t know what you are going to get,” he said.
Surprised by work from locals
Crabbe’s sentiments follow rehabilitative works his company executed on the Carrot Bay water system. At the time of being awarded that contract, he had promised Premier Andrew Fahie that he would employ locals from within the First District community to work on the project.
After hiring a few locals for the project as was promised, Crabbe said he was astonished by the work ethic displayed by the young locals.
“As BVIslanders sometimes we tend to look past our counterparts, the people from the BVI because of the stigma that has already been created based on how they look, what they do, how they hang out. But I would say that we have started the Carrot Bay project and I was pleasantly surprised by the individuals that we engaged from the Carrot Bay area.”
“If I had seen these men on the road, I wouldn’t have considered putting them up there (on the project), but those guys have done an excellent job. Something as simple as bringing their own tool on site we take for granted. I’m extremely impressed with what’s happened so far,” he added.
Autland mentoring young professionals
Crabbe further said Autland intends to engage and employ more locals throughout the various districts on several of their future projects.
He said it is part of his company’s goal to build capacity within the BVI, which will go a long way in helping the territory to continue to advance and develop.
“We actually have a mentoring programme in place with younger contractors, so you would be seeing more individuals getting involved with our projects because we do understand capacity is an issue in the BVI, we are only so big,” the contractor said.
“It’s in our best interest to partner with more locals and individuals so that in the future when you have a very big project, instead of outsourcing, we can actually team up and participate together in being awarded certain contracts,” Crabbe further explained.
The unemployment rate in the BVI has risen since the advent of COVID-19. At least 767 persons in the territory have been laid off so far. Another 165 persons have been terminated, the Labour Department has reported.